Audiences have heard the rich and soulful timbre of Anthony Evans, a multi-octave range tenor, but rarely have the chance to hear about how he approaches life, or the personal struggles he has encountered off stage, when the lights are off, the theater has emptied and everyone is home still reeling from a fantastic performance.
A former vocalist for Kirk Franklin, son of nationally recognized pastor, Dr. Tony Evans, and former contestant on NBC’s The Voice, Evans is a strong believer and lets faith guide his career. This has been a winning formula, as Evans has experienced platforms and opportunities that many only dream of. His focus, drive and work ethic are as strong as his faith, and reflect one of Evans’ mottos: choose courage over comfort and faith over fear.
Anthony Evans is a renaissance man and his memoir, Unexpected Places, provides a vivid look at his journey to finding and accepting his voice. It is sure to help others to do the same.
It was not Evans’ plan to write his memoir. A publishing company executive approached Evans after hearing him speak between songs at one of his performances. The executive saw that there was even more to Anthony Evans than the powerful worship singer that many are familiar with, and that singing was just the tip of the iceberg for a talent and voice of such potent depth and influence. After agreeing to work with the publisher, Evans started writing down his thoughts about his experiences, and how God works in his life. He didn’t want to write a book just for the personal satisfaction, but he wanted to encourage readers to see where God may be pushing them as well. Evans believes that when you choose courage over comfort and begin to move in it, you realize that you have the ability to do incredible things that you may have never thought about previously. “Most champions, bosses, people running stuff, they started with simply not being afraid to go try,” Evans says.
Unexpected Places deals with Evans’ personal journey growing up as a Pastor’s Kid, and his own struggles with self-doubt and depression – a growing issue, particularly in the African American and in the faith community. “We have been taught as men, especially as black men, that strength is just manning up. At lot of times we have been taught that manning up means keeping things inside. That’s not necessarily right. It’s like telling someone to go to the doctor, but man up and don’t tell the doctor what’s actually wrong—that doesn’t make any sense. We are serving a God who is the ‘Great Physician’. Why would you not tell the Great Physician what’s wrong, so He can get to work?” Evans continues that “as a male, a black male, an act of strength is actually saying what is wrong. It takes more strength to admit a fault than to cover a fault.”
For Evans, personal breakthrough came from him realizing that he “could only do what he could do.” Accepting the need to be honest, vulnerable and transparent with his areas of struggle brought him out of his own depression. Evans believes that the starting point for healing is honesty, and the next phase is finding the necessary treatment. His overall lesson is that when one truthfully and wholly deals with their own struggles and darkness, they are free to truly be themselves and live as they were created to live.
Evans was recently cast in the all-star performance of Beauty and The Beast at the Hollywood Bowl, along with theater icons Kelsey Grammer, Taye Diggs, and Rebel Wilson. Evans calls the opportunity “an honor,” and says that being on stage in front of 18,000 people made him think about all of the seemingly inconsequential moments in his career when he was singing in front of 50 people. “If I wasn’t faithful in those moments,” he muses, “I would have crumbled in this one.” Evans encourages others to not revel in the monumental moments without acknowledging the little moments that prepared them for bigger platforms and opportunities. Evans has fostered his God-given talents to the best of his abilities in a variety of situations, both big and small. He recounts that even his experience on The Voice was a moment that allowed him to prepare for something greater, by having to push through when things seemed irrelevant or difficult.
Just as Evans hadn’t planned on writing a memoir, he initially didn’t plan to become a singer either. His dream job actually had nothing to do with entertainment; Anthony Evans was interested in animal sciences and wanted to be a veterinarian. His parents encouraged him to cultivate his singing gift, which afforded him a full scholarship to the prestigious Liberty University in Dallas. While singing has taken him around the world (he recently performed at the U.S. Embassy Independence Day in Berlin), being around animals still provides catharsis for him. Whenever he has down time, you will find Anthony Evans in a barn with his horses.
While at Liberty University, Evans not only connected more with singing, but also with God. Evans admits that he had a knowledge of the Lord because of his upbringing, but in college he realized that, ultimately, he still had to make a personal choice. “I realized at 18 that God doesn’t have grandkids; I’m not grandfathered in because of who my family is.” He says that until he built a relationship with God for himself, he really didn’t know how to handle life when it hit, because until then he was just ‘following suit.’
Evans walks a bold life of faith, and it is a life that requires discipline and structure. He tries to make his conversations with the Lord an all day, every day thing, and he invites the Lord into everything he does. “That’s where I found the most connection with God,” he says. “It wasn’t a formality, such as real friends who check in with each other multiple times a day, but developing the discipline to convene regularly with God throughout the day.”
After reading Unexpected Places, Anthony Evans wants readers to see that, in most cases, we experience the beauty of an unexpected place when we are willing to do what may seem insignificant as it relates to obedience. “There are stories in the bible that give glimpses of what obedience can do. For instance, the story of the 10 lepers: Jesus told them to show themselves to the priest and as they went they were healed. As they were doing what He said to do, they were cleansed. I went to a leper colony when I was 20 years old. I saw what leprosy looked like; people were missing fingers and limbs. If Jesus told me to go show myself to the priest, I would be like ‘can you give me my fingers back first, then I will go…you do your part, then I’ll do mine’. But by being obedient when it was hard to do so, and not questioning God, the lepers were healed.”
What’s next for Anthony Evans? More music, of course. He recently released a remake of “Reckless Love.” “My team is known for remixing worship songs and adding our own spin to it,” he says.
“I am working on a couple projects. I am working on a song based on my life and all that’s going on with me. It’s my personal journal set to song. I am also working on a worship album.”